Everyone else gives how-to advice, so here’s mine…


The way to live, in just a few words,
will include gratitude,
ignoring the din of reprisal, the choral
complaint that life
shouldn’t send our way the inelegance
and inconvenience,
that is tantamount to living itself;
following which we
might give consideration to joy,
as in, elation,
which is, of course, a difficult plan
to plan, but that’s
the challenge to living a how-to life;
and then simply add
tears, laughter, frowns and grins,
that is, have children,
your own or someone else’s will do,
for they’ll add all
that’s needed, if we’re appreciative
in the first place.


What kind of advice do you want to hear…

A How-To of Life

Since everyone is in the business
of giving advice—even advice about advice,
I thought I’d take my turn because
if no one listens to the advice of others
then why shouldn’t mine be ignored too.

Go to school, if you can, but don’t
try to enjoy tests or group projects with
people who never do their part
of the work, and don’t expect professors
to understand how ‘she’ didn’t do the work
because that’s the point of group projects.

Stop telling yourself that Bill Gates and
Steve Jobs dropped out of school and still
became billionaires, because you’re not
Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, unless you are
someone that special, then ignore this
advice because if they didn’t there would
have been no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

If there are leaves on the sidewalk
then shuffle your feet and even
kick some into the air and remember
the sound of their crunch and the
colors because soon they’ll rot and stain
and be hidden under snow and frustration.

When driving be sure to wave in
kindness when a stranger lets you merge
or even if you’re trying to merge and
no one seems to want to let you
because a sincere wave is more effective
than a turn signal just like being nice is
more effective than giving them the finger

Everyone likes to be told they’re special
even if it’s a logical tautology to say
that everyone is special so no one is
special, like the ‘no two snowflakes
are identical’ is also a lie but that doesn’t
stop us from liking to be told we’re special.

Stop running or walking long enough
to feel the breeze and try to enjoy it
especially if it smells like chocolate because
there are no calories in air and it could
smell so much worse than chocolate
and often does.

While we’re on the topic of smells,
always stop to smell a clean baby,
right after its bath but before it
reverts to its natural state, but
don’t be creepy about it and the only
a nice person, so be a nice person.

You might not need to go home again…

A Wilderness Called Home

Most just stay put, where they began,
through no choice of their own,
except to stay of course, an accident
of birth and even that seems consolation
enough to sleep each night and rise
each morning without wandering,
calling it home; sometimes it’s war that
makes you move, but not here – our war
is for money, for a living, for a life; those
are the only movers today, no more
nomads, vagabonds or hobo’s riding the
rails, driven by the voice of God
even, to live in tents or tenements,
looking for something. anything better,
which is to say, just a little more than
now; there are those brave souls who
leave just to leave, some out of adventure
but most from desperation, escaping what
hurts too much to stay near because
the world’s a wilderness, unless home is.

Dust to dust and back again…

God Bless the Dust

God bless the dust hiding
under my couch, my chair,
my bed, behind my dresser
and end table both solid
to view and hiding decay
from you, but I know dust
has returned and always
will, swept and washed
simply to clear a way
for carbon’s inevitable
epiphany’s undoing of
all that wishes to live
and therefore must be
ready to die; God bless
mother’s wishing to be,
grandma’s praying their
own to safety and peace,
those who protect, heal,
bind up and care along
the way of return to hide
under my couch, my chair,
my bed which I kneel
beside trying to learn
life’s bold humility in
the way of dust’s return.

Nietzsche’s pockets…


If a man has a great deal
to put in them,
as Friedrich would say,
a day will have a hundred pockets;
and that’s another way
of saying it’s up to you,
the day, that is,
life, that is,
to acquire what may be
known, what may
be enjoyed,
with an appetite insatiable,
covetous to possess but not deny,
for knowing is not
a zero sum game of have
and have not,
but an unending feast for the starving,
and we are all, always,

Finals week at Oberlin…

imageIt’s the quietest of quiet afternoons
with a day to read (again)
for an oddly scheduled final,
as a wisp of Lorain air trindles
through pines that have seen it all;
a painter dressed in white from
head to toe erases smart graffiti
from a STOP sign without caring,
a girl sits in her car
crying over something worth crying over,
and a professor walks her equally aged
canine across another lawn until it
stops and sits for the very good reason
of looking at nothing at all
in the middle of everywhere but
there is no complaint of better to do
and this professor waits as happily slowed
to another stop today at Oberlin.

More, more, more…

There Isn’t Always

There isn’t always, always more
to season’s joys or love’s embrace
to mothers’ love or men’s wars
there isn’t always, always grace.

When what’s lost is lost indeed
not misplaced but put away
not forgot but must concede
when what’s not stolen is stolen today.

To do what’s asked, asked of one,
with true design, the studied course
with stoic aspect, end undone
to do without will, without remorse.

Life entombed, entombed unbound,
this coward bent and now crushed,
this hero followed and not crowned,
life unearthed, death hushed.

There isn’t always, always more
when the promised one, the only one
when none are left, left but for
there isn’t always, always none.

Wow and other words of love…

sle-love-is-heartWe all like to assume we’re good at something like or close to or approximating that strange thing that makes the world go ’round – love.

There are a few of us, in sad and lonely moments, who would decry this, and make ourselves unlovable thereby in a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-loathing.

You see, those who talk incessantly about love often do not know what love is.

And for the rest this ignorance is too painful to contemplate.

And when someone wants to quiz or test you about your love – it’s quality or degree or sincerity – that’s the cue to abandon all hope. The relationship (if there ever was one) is over – at least in terms of love.

All this is to say that love is one thing, and talking about love is another altogether. I do not pretend to comprehend either.


Nietzsche said “Love, too, has to be learned”
and we started with our first by teaching her
to say, ‘Wow’ – kissing lips opening as a fish
with a slow, drawn-out ow-ow-ow between
the magical w’s; it’s a word that goes around
itself, a palindrome to embarrass all others
and she loved – absolutely loved – the joyful
surprise on adult faces as she so carefully
pronounced, over-and-over again, her word
of wonder until she broke into a smile and the
Wow’s had to stop because upturned corners
of the mouth break into the world of wows
as if competing for delight, and it took her
learned discipline to recapture the lips which
would say her wonderful word, and we’re
awed, every day, she knows what it means.

Love and Anything

It’s an affront to the totality
of love to place a conjunction with it;
demeaning all other reality,
by simply linking ‘and’ in transit.

Love refuses rivals,
with passive opposition it denies
challengers their titles;
a simple tie sacrifices the prize.

Adding anything in place
by union with the fame of one word,
counting all else as base,
with a simply conjunction’s embrace.

Try it; put up for debate,
‘Love and’ anything will degrade;
‘and’ sex, food, marriage, even hate,
this fall is impossible to evade.

To say ‘and life’ is sad,
as if it’s worthy without the former;
to claim ‘and war’ is had
only by ignoring hate in the warrior.

For love changes all,
concurring sum with a simple ‘and’
casting this pall
over juxtaposed allegiances banned.

The lesson is clear,
that love suffers no fool gladly,
intolerant as severe
treating all pretenders badly.